Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Why is Parasite Prevention So Important for My Dog and Cat?

Parasites including fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites are a serious concern to
our pets. They not only cause irritation; they can also cause dangerous diseases. At Always
Compassionate Veterinary Care, we highly recommend routine parasite testing as well as year-
round parasite prevention to keep your pet safe from these pesky critters!

Why We Recommend Routine Parasite Testing

At your pet’s annual exam, we often recommend parasite testing to ensure your pet is free of
pests and make sure their parasite preventatives are working. Since many parasite
preventatives are monthly, it can be easy to miss a dose, or even give it to your pet late, which
opens the door for an infestation.

At your pet’s annual exam, we’ll recommend three tests:

Fecal Testing
This test is valuable for all cats and dogs, not just puppies and kittens who are prone to getting
worms from their mother. Your pet can come in contact with a wide variety of intestinal parasites from tapeworms and hookworms to giardia and coccidia in their environment. These intestinal parasites cause little to no symptoms, but over time, they can damage your pet’s intestines and may cause conditions like anemia. Fecal testing is the only way to ensure your pet is free of these parasites and offer appropriate treatment if any are found.

Heartworm Testing
Heartworms are transmitted from the bite of an infected mosquito, and they travel through your
pet’s bloodstream to the blood vessels around the heart and lungs, where they lodge
themselves. Over time, they’ll mature and multiply, causing irreversible damage to your pet’s
heart and lungs. The symptoms of heartworm disease in its early stages are very mild and may
include lethargy, a cough after exercise, or reluctance to exercise. Yet, many pets have no
symptoms at all. By the time symptoms are noticeable, the disease has advanced to a
dangerous stage that is difficult and costly to treat. Since dogs are the typical hosts for
heartworms, we will often recommend testing them yearly. Yet, cats can be infected, too.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for a cat with heartworm disease, making prevention even more

Lyme Disease Testing
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that can infect dogs, cats, and
humans alike. Ticks are usually found in wooded areas, but they can be as close to home as
your backyard! Dogs are more likely to be bitten by ticks, only because their skin is less
sensitive and they are often more likely to be outdoors in tick-infested areas with their owners.
Cats, on the other hand, have very sensitive skin and often remove the tick before it has a
chance to bite. Therefore, we only recommend routine Lyme testing for dogs who are often
outdoors with their owners. Lyme disease in dogs is often asymptomatic, meaning there are
very little or no symptoms. In some cases, dogs fight off the disease on their own, yet others
can get gravely ill. Testing helps us recognize Lyme disease in your pet so we can more closely
watch their symptoms and get them the care they need if they take a turn for the worst.

Preventative Options

At Always Compassionate Veterinary Care, we’ll talk to you about your pet’s needs and which
parasite preventatives will work best for them. Some, like Revolution Plus for cats, protects
against multiple parasites, all in one dose. Meanwhile, others like Heartgard, only protect
against one parasite (heartworms). Depending on your pet’s needs and your abilities, we’ll help
you find the safest, most effective parasite prevention option! Schedule an appointment today!

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